With Halloween days away, the Intercultural Affairs Council has not sent a campuswide email about costumes as it did just over one year ago.
In 2015, the council’s Oct. 27 email marked the beginning of a series of campus protests about racial inclusivity at Yale. But this year, the only communication about Halloween from the administration has been an Oct. 18 email from the Yale College Dean’s Office reminding students to behave with care and respect during the coming weeks. The YCDO briefly touched on Halloween costumes in this year’s email, asking students to “don a costume that respects your classmates.”
“We wanted to encourage people to be thoughtful in decision making and to look out for each other,” Howard said.
While the IAC did not send an email regarding Halloween week at Yale, IAC Chair and Afro-American Cultural Center Dean Risë Nelson Burrow said that the council nonetheless supports the message from the dean’s office.
Howard and Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar co-signed the YCDO email earlier this month. Howard, who also serves on the IAC, told the News that the YCDO email was sent out prior to Halloween because the celebration is a time when students often make bad choices.
The IAC’s email last year referenced previously insensitive costume choices while advising students not to wear costumes including blackface and feathered headdresses.
“While students, undergraduate and graduate, definitely have a right to express themselves, we would hope that people would actively avoid those circumstances that threaten our sense of community or disrespects, alienates or ridicules segments of our population based on race, nationality, religious belief or gender expression,” the IAC email from last year read.
The IAC has helped fund several intercultural campus events this fall, including the upcoming Ivy Native Summit on Nov. 4 and the Asian American Student Alliance/Asian American Cultural Center Night Market Friday night.
Nelson said the IAC is focusing its broader efforts to bolster programs and initiatives to support a more aware and inclusive community in all ways.
Students interviewed speculated about why the IAC did not send out an email similar to last fall’s Halloween email.
Patricia Licea ’18 said conversations between students last fall about race and inclusion were heated, and that many conversations on campus remain so. Licea added that she can understand why the IAC would not want to cause more controversy by sending another email, though she said she thinks the overall campus attitude toward these topics has slightly relaxed since last fall.
Anthony D’Ambrosio ’18, the coordinator of the student cabinet at Dwight Hall, said that since last October, students have become more sensitive and aware of the feelings and needs of underrepresented campus groups.
This year, just as the IAC approached Halloween week differently, students are entering November with new perspectives on race and inclusion, D’Ambrosio said.
“Last year, I think you had a situation where a couple of events on campus really opened up some larger issues that lots of Yalies were dealing with, but there was some time where people had to figure out how they were going to organize to respond,” D’Ambrosio said. “This year, I think a lot of campus groups are already ready for that.”
The IAC was created in 2008 by then-Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry.